I have written about Vitamin D for some time now, in my newsletters and in my blogs and like many other progressive and alternative medical practitioners, I have urged supplementation as the best way to get Vitamin D. I agree that sunlight is also potentially useful, but it is very hard for the average person to get enough sun year round, to meet their needs for Vitamin D.
But recently I have seen a disturbing trend, one that is in my opinion potentially dangerous that involves recommending doses for supplementation that are too high and potentially harmful if one reads the scientific literature.
First, let’s be reminded that Vitamin D is a steroid hormone. If the name steroid conjures up pictures of over bloated body builders, it need not, since steroids are natural parts of our hormone system. But any steroid hormone has to be treated with respect, natural or not.
Next, let’s remember Vitamin D is “fat soluble” and can be store inside fat cells and thus can accumulate there over time, potentially causing troubles and toxicity.
Now, in truth I have never in my clinical practice, seen a proven case of “Hypervitaminosis D”, or Vitamin D toxicity, caused by too much vitamin D.
I have seen several cases of out and out rickets in older patients and people who cover their bodies, as part of their culture and religion.
I have also seen people on chronic steroid use for autoimmune disorders and asthma, who have developed dangerously low Vitamin D levels.
In addition, the association of Vitamin D, with so many illness from immune dysfunction, to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases we commonly associated with aging is irrefutable, so in addition to the “traditional medical view” of what constitutes low Vitamin D levels, I have seen a lot of illnesses from what is probably misnamed “relatively low” Vitamin D levels.
Since they are directly correlated with the incidence of disease, I would call them “absolutely” low, not relatively!
These are illnesses that get better and sometimes disappear with just the addition of Vitamin D, if it is given in a reasonable dose and before too much permanent damage is done.
Ok, now let’s speak English for a moment so you get the “take home points.”
It’s really important for you to apply the Goldilocks approach to Vitamin D, “not too little, not too much; just right” or you can get into trouble.
I recently had to duke it out with a heavy hitter in the Vitamin World over D dosages. They were recommending 10,000 IU daily and I felt that that was too much, as a starting point.
What would Goldilocks say?
1) Get your Vitamin D level (25 hydroxy Vitamin D) checked before you start supplementation
2) Base your daily supplementation on that dose and shoot for a level of 55 to 85 nmol/L
3) Make sure your doctor looks at the units used to report your Vitamin D level- The test should be 25-OH Vitamin D level (also known as 25 hydroxy Vitamin D level) and the units used above are nmol/L. If the “other” units are used 25 to 35 ng/ml.
4) There is always room to push for the higher end of those numbers, rather than to settle for the lower end. As you get closer to “optimal“(represented by the higher end of the numbers noted above) the general health trends of people improve so you can and should shoot for the higher end.
5) Once you have gotten to a level that you and your doctor are happy with, recheck your Vitamin D level every 3 to 6 months. Keep in mind, if you move North or South of where you are now, get put on high dose steroids even for a short time, suffer severe viral or other kinds of medical illnesses or surgical procedures, you should recheck your Vitamin D level
6) Too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing. If you go above the higher range of the numbers noted above, recent studies show you can be heading for trouble as well, ironically from some of the same illnesses adequate Vitamin D helps to prevent: cancer and heart disease.
The topic of Vitamin D is bound to continue to be one of hot debate. More and more research is being done and as is the usual case, when you turn researchers loose on a problem, they will find ways to justify even more research!
Finally, when pushed by people who say they just want to know what dose of Vitamin D to take, I say between 3000 IU and 5000 IU 5 to 7 days a week. My experience has shown me it’s hard to get into trouble with those doses and I follow the caveat I learned many years ago in medical school: “First do no harm.” I also tell them they may be short changing themselves from getting all the benefits from this powerful vitamin, by doing it this way.
That said, please work with your doctor and get your levels checked. Respect Vitamin D! It’s one powerful hormone and like fish oil can do more for your health than any prescription drug, if it’s used properly. Just don’t go wild with Vitamin D! It won’t take much for the FDA to remove this from the shelves and make it the sole domain of the Big Pharmaceutical Companies so lets not give them a reason!
About the author
Dr Dave is a Board Certified Internist and Board Certified anti-aging physician. He owns and operates his own supplement company, Dr Dave’s Best, dedicated to true anti-aging and performance enhancing supplements. Dr Dave still writes his own material and does not use copywriting teams for his newsletters, blogs, etc. His motto is “Use Mother Nature to Beat Father Time!” He is also co-author of “The Immortality Edge” (due out Jan 2011 by John Wiley and Sons) a book dedicated to teaching everyone about the newest hottest field in anti-aging technology, Telomere Biology and giving practical proven advice for better health and a longer life that everyone can use RIGHT NOW!For more information on telomeres you can visit Dr Dave’s web site, http://www.drdavesbest.com or his special site http://www.telonauts.com where Dr Dave is commonly known as “Dr Telomere”!